Braggone, the optoelectronics materials company, has signed a joint development agreement with equipment supplier Beneq that offers a turnkey solution to provide a custom matched material and toolset for the maximum manufacturing efficiency and product performance of solar cells. Demand for new turnkey solutions is rapidly increasing in the equipment intensive photovoltaic (PV) industry and this collaboration will further accelerate the growth of Braggone in solar applications.
Braggone recently announced a new product line that greatly increases the efficiency of solar cells and allows manufacturing facilities to cost-effectively increase their capacity. The custom designed compounds, custom tuned at the silicon and metal-oxide based polymer level, can dramatically reduce reflection from glass and silicon, and therefore, deliver substantially more light to the active regions of the solar cell, resulting in higher efficiencies. The tool solutions from Beneq are based on extensive experience in providing equipment for applying thin film coatings on functional surfaces such as glass and metals. The spray coating method used is made possible by a new, Beneq proprietary high-capacity two-fluid atomizer, which reduces the droplet diameter to submicron size, enabling high-speed processing. The combination of materials from Braggone and the manufacturing solution from Beneq will help solar cell suppliers dramatically reduce their cost per peak Watt.
“We estimate that solar cell manufacturers can reduce certain manufacturing costs by up to 50%, while increasing significantly their cell and module efficiencies,” commented Ari Karkkainen, Braggone CTO. “Our target is to push conventional cell relative quantum efficiencies up by 5% through the use of our products. That can mean more than 50% power output increase at the module level.”
“Due to the collaboration with Beneq, we can deliver increased performance and reduced costs all in one turnkey solution,” Karkkainen added. “Our system has been designed in a way that it meets industrial requirements of high efficiency PV device manufacturing. With our materials and process platform flexibility, we can address efficiency improvement requirements in crystalline silicon and thin solar cells as well as in module processes. Our technology allows our customers to achieve superior optical confinement as well as excellent front and rear passivation in combination with a high bulk lifetime. Our aim is to make sub-one euro per peak watt manufacturing costs a reality.”
Maximum throughput, lower cost-of-ownership &ndash process can eliminate CVD tools
When compared to materials such as silicon nitride, the Braggone materials can cut reflection by half and costs associated with deposition tools by even more than half. Braggone tunes the optics of the cell by spray, slit, spin, or dip-coating layers of molecularly tailored anti-reflective and hydrogenation coatings in a rapid and cost-effective atmospheric in-line process rather than having to use expensive chemical vapor deposition (CVD) tools.
Substantial savings result from:
- Maximum throughput and elimination of batch processing bottleneck with in-line process
- Vacuumless process conducted in atmospheric conditions means high throughput and uptime
- Double the anti-reflective performance of Braggone materials compared to silicon nitride
- Less consumables used
- Small tool footprint increases fab floor space
- As much as 10 times less electricity used than with a CVD tool
- Much lower cost-of-ownership than a CVD process
The system is applicable for both crystalline wafers and large, thin film solar glass substrates, as well as module glass. One tool can produce multiple refractive index (RI) films and films with both optical anti-reflective coatings (ARC) and electrical functions (passivation, hydrogenation) that are absolutely necessary to dramatically boost cell efficiencies. This announcement is the first in what Braggone believes will be a series of collaborations with toolmakers to demonstrate the performance of these materials with different application methods.
Recently announced multi-million dollar funding
Braggone announced last week that it has received multi-million dollar funding from TEKES (The National Technology Agency of Finland) to commercialize their polymer materials for worldwide commercialization. TEKES is the same funding agency behind Nokia’s dramatic success in the cell phone market.